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Brandishing a weapon: A danger to yourself and others

You went into town with a fake rifle expecting to make a video with some friends. You waved it around and were acting out a scene when you noticed some people leaving the area quickly. Moments later, you saw an officer pulling up to the scene and you were asked to put down your weapon.

Even if it was all in fun, waving around a weapon is a dangerous thing to do. Even if the weapon is a fake, brandishing it in a way that makes others fear that they could be shot or injured could get you into deep trouble. Legally speaking, Virginia is tough on those who brandish weapons. It's a Class 1 misdemeanor to brandish a weapon in public. It becomes a Class 6 felony if you do so within 1,000 feet of a school property.

An interesting thing about Virginia's brandishing laws is that you don't just have to worry about arrest. Here are a few things you need to know based on the state codes.

1. Officers aren't responsible for what happens if you brandish a weapon

Any police officers who are executing their duties and arresting you cannot be held liable for damages that occur because they believed that you intentionally were causing fear or intending to cause harm to others. This is very dangerous for people like yourself, even if you weren't waving around a weapon with the intention to hurt anyone.

2. "Firearms" is a broad term in Virginia

When you think of firearms, you probably imagine guns, like pistols or rifles. However, the law is broad. According to the law, any weapon that can expel projectiles thanks to a combustible material counts as a firearm. Ammunition that counts under the laws includes pellets, missiles and cartridges.

3. It doesn't matter if the weapon's usable

Some people believe that if a weapon isn't in a usable state that they shouldn't face penalties. The reality is that the officers and court have the option to penalize those who scare others with fake weapons. If you plan to take a plastic or fake weapon with you into public, make sure it's clear that it's not real. Doing this helps avoid the kind of panic that could end up getting you hurt.

These are a few things to know about brandishing a weapon in Virginia. Any time you're accused of a serious crime like this, it's necessary to defend yourself. Know your rights and be prepared to explain your actions.

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